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The History And Origin Of Hinduism

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Hinduism refers as a religious designation to the sacred philosophy of peoples living in contemporary India and Southeast Asia. It is a combination of many spiritual customs in the region and does not have a set of clearly defined beliefs. It is accepted by the scholars that Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world, but no known historical figure is due to its origin. Hindu roots are diverse and are likely to be a combination of different regional beliefs. According to historians, Hinduism dates back 5,000 years.

At one time, it was believed that Hindu beliefs were brought to India by the Aryans who conquered the Indus Valley civilization and settled on the banks of the Indus River around 1600 BC. However, this theory is now believed to be flawed, according to many scholars the principles of Hinduism evolved within groups of people living in the Indus Valley region long before the Iron Age, the first of which dates back to some time before 2000 BC. Other scholars combine the two theories, believing that the basic beliefs of Hinduism evolved from indigenous rituals and practices, but the Aryans are likely to be influenced it.


A Hindu term derived from the name of the Indus River which flows through northern India. In ancient times the river was called Sindhu, but the Persians who emigrated to India called the Hindu river known as Hindustan and called it the Hindu population. The first known use of the Hindu term is from the sixth century BC, used by the Persians. Initially, Hinduism was mostly a cultural and geographical mark, and only later was applied to describe the religious practices of Hindus

According to scholars, the evolution of Hinduism may be divided into three periods:

  • The ancient period (3000 BCE-500 CD)
  • The medieval period (500 to 1500 CE)
  • The modern period (1500 to present)

Hinduism it consider as the oldest religion in the world. But little is known about its origin and inception, The following research is done to understand the religion, origins of Hinduism, how to started, about its epic book and concept of many Gods.


Prof. Flood (1996) wrote a book “ An Introduction To Hinduism” Where he wrote that religion in the Indus Valley seems to have been taken in the ritual of the temple and the sacred bathing in the ‘great bath’ found in Mohenjo-daro. There is some evidence of animal sacrifice in Kalibangan. A number of pottery statues, possibly portraits of the goddess, and a seal depicting a sitting figure surrounded by animals that some scholars believe to be a prototype of Lord Shiva have been found. Others opposed this, pointing out that it was very similar to the elamite seals showing bulls sitting. One of the steatite images depicting a character fighting the lions that suggests the legend of Gilgamesh in Mesopotamia.

Continuities between the Indus Valley civilisation and later Hinduism as suggested by the clear stress on ritual bathing, sacrifice, and goddess worship. But ritual purity, sacrifice and an emphasis on richness are common to other ancient religions.

Steven M. Kossak and Edith W. Watts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “An ancient form of religious practice was the worship of spirits believed to in trees, rivers, and rocks. Many Indians still hold such beliefs. One form these beliefs took is the worship of yakshas and yakshis, male and female deities associated with the richness of the earth. Serpent kings called nagarajas and their consorts, naginis, as well as makaras, crocodile like creatures, are all linked with the cult of life-giving waters.


Aryan the word is derived from Sanskrit word “arya” which means noblemen.

After the collapse of the Indus civilization, Aryans migrated down to the subcontinent from Central Asian, bringing with them beliefs in gods, mainly male, who in person forces and nature and were worshipped in complex sacrifices performed by Brahmins, the priestly class.

Steven M. Kossak and Edith W. Watts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: The religious texts written by the Aryans began with Rig Veda, Soma Veda, Yajur Veda, and Athara Veda (about 1500-1200 BC), which included God’s hymns and A description of the customs, behaviors and traditions of the Aryans. . These books revolve around knowledge, inspiration and lifestyle.

Later, the Upanishads (700-500 BC) contained profound philosophical speculations about ‘The One”. This ‘One’ known as Brahmin is eternal, everything around it is invisible, and is the origin and essence of all things.

Upanishads and Vedas were a compilation of scripts, these scripts provide the basic source for many important topics of Indian philosophy. The purpose of these text were not so much instruction as inspiration. They talked about universe whole as the great entity. The compilation of these script were made by Aryans and the idea of cast system was also introduced.

Doniger (2013) author of “The Hindus: An Alternative History” tells the history of early hindu script “ Purana”. The early Puranas were probably compiled by upper-caste authors who appropriated popular beliefs and ideas from people of various caste. Later on Puranas showed evidence of influences of local religious traditions.

Traditionally, a Purana is said to treat five subjects, or “five signs”: the main creation of the universe, secondary creation after periodic total destruction, the family tree of gods and patriarchs, the reigns of the Manus (the first humans), and the history of the solar and lunar dynasties. Creation and dissolution (sarga, “emission,” and samhara, “gathering in”) occur when Prajapati, a creator figure of the Verdic age, emits the universe and opens it, but everything is always in it, just alternately open (manifest) or covered (latent); sarga lets it out, and samhara pulls it back in.

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The Puranas also treat various topics about religious developments that occurred between about 400 and 1500 CE. Those additional topics include customs, ceremonies, sacrifices, festivals, caste duties, donations, the construction of temples and images, and places of pilgrimage

Valmiki (5th century BCE) wrote ancient Sanskrit epic The Ramayana which follows Prince Rama’s quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the captivity of Ravana with the help of an army of monkeys.

Ramayana talked about once responsibility and pursuit of Dharma (righteousness), both Artha (materialistic pleasures) and Kama (sense pleasures) must be sacrificed. These two should never be at the cost of Dharma.

Mahabarata appearing in its present form in 4 century BC. Vyasa an ancient author is credited for writing it.

Doniger (2013) wrotes in “The Hindus: An Alternative History” The Mahabharata is an important source of information on the development of Hinduism between 400 BCE and 200 CE and is regarded by Hindus as both a text about dharma (Hindu moral law) and a history (itihasa, literally “that’s what happened”).

The book narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Paṇḍava princes and their progression. The story emphasizes on standing on onc’s dharma(morals) during suppression.

Ramayana’s early text appeared in 400 AD and was written by Valmiki. Prof. Vinay Lal (2005) wrote: “The Ramayana belongs to a class of literature known in Sanskrit as kavya (poetry). It is one of two epics, the other being the Mahabharata, which have had a decisive influence in shaping the nature of Indian civilization. The Ramayana existed in the oral tradition perhaps as far back as 1,500 B.C., but the fourth century B.C. is generally accepted as the date of its composition in Sanskrit by Valmiki.

Both Ramayana and Mahabharata are essential for shaping the Itihasa (history) of Hinduism. These stories are quoted and talked about in Hindu households.


Dr A.V. Srivivasan (2018) author of “There is but One without a second! A Hindu View of God” The main terms for deity within the diverse traditions of Hinduism vary, and include Deva, Devi, Ishvara, Ishvari, Bhagavan and Bhagavati. The Hindu trinity consists of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer). Their feminine counterparts are Saraswati (the wife of Brahma) Lakshmi (the wife of Vishnu) and Parvati (the wife of Shiva).

The Hindu deity have many avatars, Vishnu, the preserver alone has 10 avatars the famous of which are Rama and Krishna. So as his consort Lakshmi who’s avatars are Sita and Radha.

Brahma first appeared in the ancient Hindu text Vedas, as the creator of universe. While his birth was detailed in Puranas. Vishnu and shiva have minor mentions in Vedas and Upanishad. But the epic Mahabarata and Ramayana have detailed accounts of them.

Prof. Vasudha Narayanan (2004) wrote in her book “Understanding Hinduism” about early vedic gods and deities. The early vedic mentions of Indra, Surya, Agni, Ushas, Vayu, Varuna, Mitra, Aditi, Yama, Soma, Sarasvati, Prithvi, and Rudra. These deites belonged to the 3 dimensions of universe/heaven, earth and intermediate space.

The intial deities were the forces of nature rather than a superhuman beings.


The finding of the study suggested that the religion of Hinduism it the oldest and the most diverse in the world, through the 4,000 year history the religion evolve many folds. It started in the Indus valley when Aryans came from the north. The initials gods or deities took the form of the nature. In its initial form it was more of a way or philosophy of life than religion. The early text was written in Sanskrit. The purpose of these early text were to inspire people. They talked about knowledge. The books and text that came later focused more on gods and their stories and the concepts of “Karma” “Dharma” and “Maya”. The polytheism religion was started by talking about “The One” this “One” was mention to the one who “Lies beyond”. This was later converted to a religion of many deities and there incarnations.


According to many scholars, Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world, with more than 4,000 years. Today, with about 900 million followers. Hinduism is the third largest religion. About 95 percent of the world’s Hindus live in India. In the absence of a specific founder, it is difficult to trace its origins and history. It is unique in the sense that it is not a single religion but a collection of traditions, culture and philosophies. That has also changed over time throughout history. Its books were collections of many texts and all the books talked about different aspects that make Hinduism the most diverse religion, but there is harmony between the school of different ideas.


  1. Editors of History, (October 6, 2017). Hinduism.
  2. Flood, G. (1996). An Introduction To Hinduism. Brighton, UK. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Doinger, W. (2009). The Hindus: An Alternative History. United States. Viking Press.
  4. Lal, V, (2005). Introducing Hinduism. Delhi, India. Icon Books.
  5. Srinivasan, A.V. (2018) There is but One without a second! A Hindu View of God. United States. Periplus lines.
  6. Narayanan, V. (2004) Understanding Hinduism. Florida, USA. Duncan Baird Publishers.

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